Forgotten Guests: A Smorgasbord of Leftovers

Carolyn Cornell Holland (COMe)




Beethovan’s Fifth provided quiet background music as I “nested” on the couch, cuddling under a Christmas coverlet featuring the Twelve Days of Christmas. A small table beside me held a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of popcorn, and a novel picked out of my “books to read” pile. Our Border collie, Tag, was curled up by my feet. Christmas tree lights filled the room with a soft glow. I glanced over to the window and saw soft, gentle snowflakes drifting through the air.

It was January 2, 1986.  4:30 p.m. The rush of the holidays was over. Cozy in my jammies, I figured I could sneak in a quiet hour before even thinking about gathering holiday leftovers to create a dinner for my family—husband Monte, daughter Sandy, 15, and son Nolan, 13. Monte was in the back room preparing a sermon. Nolan was in his room doing homework. Sandy was at a friend’s house.

All was well. I delved into my novel, forgetting the world around me.

The front door opened at 6:00 p.m. Sandy, her coat covered with white snowflakes, walked into the living room.

“Mom,” she said. “Suzanne and Emmanuel arrived just as I walked up the driveway.”

Emmanuel and Suzanne, friends from Slippery Rock, followed Sandy into the room. I was surprised but delighted, and greeted them warmly.

“You’re ready for bed already?” Suzanne asked.

“I never got dressed today,” I answered honestly. “It was so peaceful after the hectic holidays. What brings you here?”

“Dinner?” Suzanne said hesitatingly.

That’s when it registered. I’d forgotten that Monte and I had invited them to join us for dinner this night.  Nothing was prepared because I was serving the family a mishmash of holiday leftovers, help-yourself style.

Suzanne and Emmanuel, Slippery Rock University graduate students from Africa, took the situation good naturedly. And I tried to be graceful as I tied my robe firmly over my jammies.

Suzanne helped me prepare the meal, which turned out delightful. After they had their fill and we’d visited for a while they put on their coats and left. They wanted to be back in Slippery Rock before the weather worsened.

“This will be a whopper of a tale about Americans that you can take back home with you,” I said as I waved them off. Their grins told me they’d enjoyed the evening as much as I did.

So why tell this story?

It’s because it’s an ultimately human story. We all goof. Sometimes forget that we’ve invited a guest to fill a seat at our table.

And I’m certain of one thing. It not only happens at American tables, it happens at tables in countries around the globe. We’d experienced a local act that is global in nature. Humans are behave humanly—forgetting things, forgiving things, making the best of situations—regardless of where on the globe they live.

NOTE: The WordPress daily prompt for February 20, 2015, was Think Global, Act Local. This writing I found in my files reverses the thought, but contains the essence of the idea.



“Julbord”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons –


About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at My novel site is
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2 Responses to Forgotten Guests: A Smorgasbord of Leftovers

  1. Grace ( & Fred) Wells says:

    The hostess with the moistest – even at the 11th hour !


  2. Thomas Beck says:

    Sometimes a Smorgasbord of food can be more exciting, as spontaneous picnics with my aunt Violet and uncle Charles proved. Charles would call and say, “Let’s have a picnic. We have lunch meat and bread.” My mom, Sybil, would say, “We have cheese and cookies.” Good deal. Stopping for drinks and chips, we would drive to one of several local parks and enjoy the scenery, food, and family.


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